April 4 Stray Animal Day: What is being done about stray animals in Turkey?

In 2010, at the initiative of the stray animal foundations in the Netherlands, April 4 was recognized as Stray Animal Day. Since then, attention has been drawn to the problems faced by stray animals on April 4. Researchers estimate that there are 600 million stray animals in the world. In Turkey, this number is estimated at 10 million. Özlem Zengin, vice-president of the AKP group in 2021; “Without neutering, the number of dogs is expected to reach 60 million within 10 years,” he said. Adana Chamber of Veterinarians Chairman Nihat Köse says more than 70% of stray animals need to be sterilized in order to control the number of animals. However, this is a very expensive business. So who is responsible for the care and feeding of so many animals? What is the situation of stray animals in Turkey, why are we talking about it? Let’s see the details together.

What did the Netherlands do about stray animals?

The Dutch associations, which are the architects of Stray Animal Day, explain what the Netherlands is doing about it and what countries with a stray dog ​​”problem” should do with their reports. According to the report published in 2012, there were a lot of dogs in the Netherlands in the 1800s. Thanks to the measures taken, the number of strays could be brought under control in the 1900s.

For example, dogs are bought as “gifts” in Turkey and after a while these animals are left on the street. In the Netherlands, with a law introduced in 1962, those who cannot provide the necessary care for the animal can be fined 16,750 euros (272,000 TL) and up to imprisonment. at three years old.

“Collect, maintain, vaccinate, drop off where you bought it”

stray dogs

The Society for the Protection of Animals and the Protection of Dogs in the Netherlands says that this four-step application will work even in countries like Turkey where the situation seems hopeless. In fact, the laws in Turkey comply with these recommendations. The Animal Welfare Act, which came into effect in 2004, stipulates that animals are sterilized, vaccinated, registered and returned to where they were taken after being rehabilitated.

Experts say the problem stems from enforcement rather than the law. For example, last year President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared that “the place of stray animals is not the street but the shelters” despite the declarations of the law. Following this declaration, the bars of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir opposed the president.

There are more than 1300 municipalities in Turkey. Despite this, the number of animal shelters is 250. Most of these shelters do not have adequate facilities.

The World Health Organization states that the most effective method of controlling stray animal numbers is through neutering, educating people, and registering animals and their owners.

If a female dog gives birth to an average of five puppies every six months and her puppies give birth during the same period, it is calculated that approximately 5,000 dogs will be produced from the female dog’s line in five years.

In recent years, the stray dog ​​debate has not disappeared from Turkey’s agenda.

street animals

In particular, dog attacks on humans exacerbate the scope of the discussion. Mahra Melin Pınar, 9, who was hit by a truck as she escaped from a stray dog, died on March 28.

Social media users and representatives of political parties are reacting to these attacks much more than before. For example, the account named “The Stray Dog Problem” on Twitter has nearly 30,000 followers. From this account, there are news of people being attacked by stray animals every day.

On the other hand, Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Murat Kurum said that care and treatment services for these animals will be increased. At the same time, he said municipalities should feed stray animals and prevent animals from starving.

Speaking to Independent Turkish in 2021, Haydar Özkan, vice president of the Animal Life Rights Confederation (HAYKONFED), said people attacked by stray dogs can sue the municipality: “Feeding and rehabilitation stray animals are the responsibility of this municipality and the mayor. If the animal is fed and rehabilitated, why would it attack people who come to the park? In that case, take legal action against the president for not doing his duty, and we’re with you.

Stray animals in Turkey are highlighted not only in the country but also abroad.

street animals

Some countries, like England, warn their citizens who will go to Turkey because of stray dogs. The UK government says that although Turkey has wanted to reduce the number of stray dogs, it has not been able to achieve this and the herds of dogs that congregate can be aggressive, so approach dogs with caution wanderers.

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